Warning! Avoid Eyelead Gel-Sticks for Sony A7 Cameras – Part 1

This is the best thing I can do for the photography community is give some advice about my personal experience using Photographylife.com’s Eyelead Gel-Stick for Sony Sensors. Right now, I CANNOT and WILL NOT recommend them for ANY Sony sensor cleaning on any mirrorless camera in the Alpha series!

The staff over at PhotographyLife.com have visited various forums over the last several months warning photographers not to buy Chinese counterfeit knock-offs of it’s sensor gel-sticks from Eyelead in Germany designed to remove dust specks and other debris off of camera sensors because the counterfeits have damaged several Sony cameras. I took their advice and purchased a gel-stick about 8 months ago directly from PhotographyLife.com. Recently after getting back from a 12-day photography trip from New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, I noticed a few dust specks on my much-loved Sony A7R camera.

This was my chance to try the much anticipated Eyelead Gel-Stick from Photography life. To my complete horror, the stick was uneasy to pull away from the sensor upon first trying it out without lifting the cover glass on the Sony A7R or damaging the glass. This turned into a nightmare minutes later and instead of yanking it off, or pulling on it, or forcing it, I gently was able to lift it off from working it on one side of the gel head and then gently removing. After checking to see if it removed the dust speak, to my dismay I noticed a bunch of residue from the stick itself adhering to the Sony Sensor which looked far worse than the dust speck! I was immediately angered.

I tried a few more times to apply the gel-stick after utilizing the sticky paper supplied with the product to see if that would help in removing the residue. I was very gentle utilizing the gel-stick and used the same method of lifting the gel stick from one side to remove it from the sensor. It was obvious! The more I tried to fix the situation, the more damage and residue it left on the sensor! Madness would be doing to same thing over and over expecting different results so I stopped cold turkey and will never buy another flipping gel-stick, unfortunately. I hate ’em now, every last gel-stick! Grrr…

My Verdict is – This product from Eyelead and PhotographyLife.com is totally questionable and I find it flabbergasting that I paid so much from the “authorized source” and it’s a fact, in my book, that it DOES NOT WORK and it will damage or cause further damage to any Sony Full Frame Sensor.

In the photos above you will notice some discoloration to the sensor where the gel-stick was applied. It’s my hypothesis that this is actually the Sony Sensor coating either being directly affected or even removed as a result of using the Eyelead Gel-Stick. It was maddening “trying to fix” the situation caused by the Eyelead Sony Gel-Stick. Nasim, from Photographylife.com, reached out to me and have informed me that they are sending a wet-cleaning solution that will help me out here. I hope a wet clean will remove the discoloration and residue caused by the Eyelead!? If it doesn’t, this will require a much more expensive repair as a result of trusting Eyelead’s Gel-Sticks!

I’ve been doing wet-cleaning methods on digital camera sensors for years with absolutely no problems with companies like Visible Dust back in the olden days. Cleaning camera sensors comes natural to me. I’m hoping a wet clean clears up any visual blemishes on the sensor caused by the Eyelead. If it does not, I will know for a fact that Eyelead Gel-Sticks damage Sony mirrorless cameras and will follow up with – Part 2!

*Note, In an effort to be fair and balanced – here’s an email message sent to me within minutes after posting this article from Nasim Mansurov @ PhotographyLife.com:

Nate, I’m not sure why you ordered Eclipse when an order of a wet cleaning kit with swabs was heading your way. USPS doesn’t work on weekends, so it was going out tomorrow. We have a better cleaning solution than Eclipse, which might not be able to easily remove the residue you see on the sensor. PS had to decrease the quality of their chemical liquid after dealing with a lot of complaints from Sony users whose coatings on AA filters were getting removed by the solution.

I understand your frustration with our product, however, please note that we have tens of thousands of happy customers who use the sensor gel stick to clean their Sony cameras. I don’t know whether the sample product you received was faulty, or some strange chemical or coatings on your A7R caused incompatibility, but it is a very rare case. Do you think we would still be selling the product if every customer had a problem? I personally issue full refunds for every customer who has a problem with our products – imagine if I had to do that for every order out there, we would be losing money left and right. These cases are extremely rare and whenever there is a complaint about any residue problem, I try to get the customer to send me their camera so that I can investigate the case and report to Eyelead Germany. However, in this case you didn’t want to send the camera for cleaning, so it is not in my hands to see the issue, which is why the best I can offer is to send you a wet cleaning kit.

Photoblogging Using Smugmug!

I’ve been posting and uploading ALL of my images to Smugmug – And using the service to host all my images for  Talking Tree Photo and my photoblog. For anyone who follows my work eion social media or through the blog; Smugmug offers a 20% discount to new customers by clicking HERE and any of the links in this post.

I just applied for their affiliate program and do all my printing and hosting via Smugmug on. It’s a fact that it’s unlimited space for photographers who have a lot of images to upload.

I have done a bulk of research in comparing some of the other photography companies that compete with Smugmug and once tried Zenfolio but returned to SM because the service still feels the most intuitive and hard to beat! I’ve been with them since 2009 and that is a long streak in the age of the internet and social media. Smugmug offers professional printing and through partnerships with White House Photo and Bay Photo printing services which are two of the most professional and reliable fine art printing companies around. There are also other cheaper printing options offered through the service.

This is just my professional opinion of Smugmug and for people wishing to implement a blog, I recommend installing WordPress separately from Smugmug since they do not offer a blog as a feature. If they did, I would welcome it. For image hosting, I cannot think of a better service to recommend!? Click on the “Smugmug Pro” banner below to get that 20% off your subscription when joining the family.Smugmug Pro

The Latest-Greatest Cameras Will Not Make You a Better Photographer

I love hearing about photo junkies spending thousands of dollars on the greatest and latest cameras knowing for a fact that having the latest-greatest fancy-pants camera will STILL NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER. Remember this and save thousands of dollars! That being said, if you are going to invest thousands of dollars spend it on glass (camera lenses) because good glass is still key to higher quality, and not necessarily the newest cameras along with their marketing hype. Cameras depreciate faster than lenses and the latter hold their value longer. I’ve been with Micro Four Thirds for 8 years now. That’s a pretty good track record. Why do I recommend this format? Because it’s dirt cheap, affordable, excellent image quality, and the fact that it works well, being mirror-less technology. In the end, It’s going to be the practice and passion that you put into composing images that will help you grow to become a better photographer. Remember that and avoid the marketing hype. I purchase old discontinued camera bodies at steeply discounted rates and invest the money in glass instead. It’s been a while since I’ve purchased gear and I’m happy with my choices. Practice makes better photos!